In fact I’m watching one right now, while I write this.
Every day since Thanksgiving, often several times a day,I have walked into my living room, turned on the television, and typed those numbers into my remote control to call up the Lifetime Channel. It’s been airing it’s special brand of saccharin, made-for-TV Christmas movies since October and I. Can’t. Stop. Watching.
Oh, you think that’s weird? You think you’re superior for marking your holiday season with an annual viewing of cinematic classics like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation or It’s a Wonderful Life? Must be nice to be so emotionally stable that you can enjoy a film about a man who’s contemplating killing himself!
I live in the real world, where the sun sets at 4:30 p.m. and the pressure to get the right gift for the right person and do the right holiday-related errands and activities before the calendar strikes Boxing Day intensifies by the hour. And despite a daily pine-scented anti-depressant, my chronically bummed brain has me constantly chasing away creeping feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness so maybe a movie about George Bailey’s journey back from the literal ledge is just a little TOO FUCKING REAL, OK, CAPRA?!
That’s what makes Lifetime movies so perfect for me. There is nothing real about them; there is no heaviness. They are empty and irrelevant. They are Little Debbie Eggnog Cake Rolls for my eyeballs. These movies flood my brain with dopamine in 90 minute blocks of time and then they are gone forever and I’m left feeling absolutely nothing. Do you know how good nothing feels in the midst of a season when I can’t help but feel too much? It feels very good!
Unlike these movies; I know these movies aren’t “good.” The scripts are loose and clumsy, probably written in a matter of hours, and the plots are filled with holes.
In A Sweet Christmas Romance a supposedly very talented French pastry chef is going on and on about mille-feuille but just a few scenes later he admits to having never heard of a pavlova?! LOL, OK, SURE.
In Staging Christmas, a professional home stager (Soleil Moon “Punky Brewster” Frye!) falls in love with a widower after she asks him if she could host her office’s holiday party in the house he just bought and moved into. Sure! That’s a totally normal request for a stranger who has nothing at all to do with you, your office or your holiday traditions.
But there are hidden treasures at times — in You Light Up My Christmas, star Kim Fields (Tootie!) keeps running into her Facts of Life co-stars, including Lisa Whelchel (Blair!), Mindy Cohn (Natalie!) and Nancy McKeon (Jo!). And unlike Hallmark’s Christmas movies, which are for homophobes and white supremacists, Lifetime at least tries to offer diversity. (Though Mistletoe & Menorahs wants us to believe an adult woman living in Chicago doesn’t know a single Jewish person?! Chicago has the third largest Jewish population in the country, but sure.)
They’re silly, I admit that. Hell, I embrace that. As Christmas grows closer, it becomes harder to fight the temptation to plug in the tree, pull shut the curtains and let my eyes glaze over while my anxious thoughts get pushed out by an endless stream of candy-coated holiday stories packed with stock footage and fake snow.
Keep mocking these movies if you must. I see you on Twitter and Facebook acting like you’re too good for them. But I prefer an nonthreatening Christmas carol-themed adventure with one of the Mowry sisters over having my heart torn out by James Stewart and Donna Reed any day of the year.